Jane Padgett couldn't believe it when the company that sells her dog's medicine said her credit card had been denied. When she called Bank of America, she learned that her $1,000 credit limit had been halved.
"I don't charge a lot," said Padgett, 51, a travel agent in Los Angeles. "I usually don't charge more than $400 or $500 a month. I don't keep a balance."
The Bank of America representative on the phone told her that her limit had been reduced because of negative items on her credit report, some of which, Padgett tried to explain, were errors that had been recently expunged. But there was still a bankruptcy in 1994 (when her mom had cancer) and a late payment on a Macy's card in 2007. The bank suddenly saw her as too risky.
According to Padgett, when she protested further, pointing out that she'd never made a late payment on the card in question, the Bank of America representative responded by canceling her credit card altogether -- ending a 12-year relationship in which she'd done nothing but make full payments, and on-time, too.
"Why don't you put the limit back where it was?" she recalled asking. The response: "No, you've been canceled."
This happened on Tuesday. On Thursday, a Bank of America spokeswoman told the Huffington Post that Bank of America would never cancel a card to punish a customer for griping.
"We do monitor accounts for risks and may adjust customer lines up or down as appropriate based on their risk profile based on their performance," said spokeswoman Betty Riess. "We would not close an account just because somebody would call in about it."
Padgett swears she was dumped in the course of a conversation.
"It's because I complained," she told the Huffington Post on Wednesday. "I'm still in shock."
In the wake of the credit crisis and ahead of a regulatory clampdown, credit card issuers have been reducing limits, raising interest rates, and increasing minimum payments even on good customers. The effort to squeeze cardholders after a $700 billion taxpayer-funded bailout of the financial industry has ignited widespread fury, prompting some to refuse to pay at all.
"This whole thing wouldn't bother me if they hadn't got taxpayer money," said Padgett.
Shortly after Huffington Post's inquiry, Bank of America changed its tune, apparently realizing Padgett wasn't such a risky borrower after all. A Bank of America rep called her at work, apologized, and offered to restore the account with the original limit. (It had nothing to do with a reporter's inquiry, BofA told HuffPost.)
Padgett accepted the apology and was glad to get her account back.
"Getting an apology meant a good deal to me," she said. "I feel much better. I'm very glad I complained. I'd been calling the customer service department and couldn't get anybody to listen."